News ID: 215061
Published: 0353 GMT May 14, 2018

Catalonia elects hard-line separatist lawmaker as leader

Catalonia elects hard-line separatist lawmaker as leader

Hardline separatist politician Quim Torra has been elected as Catalonia’s new president, an appointment that could further escalate divisions between the region and the central Spanish government.

In a parliamentary vote on Monday, 66 lawmakers voted for Torra, 65 MPs against and four abstained.

Torra, 55 and father of three, is known for his fierce campaign for Catalonia’s independence from Spain. The newcomer is also very close to former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont who is now in Germany fighting extradition to Spain on charges of sedition and misuse of public funds that were brought against him after he led an independence drive last year, Presstv Reported.

Torra said after the appointment that he would do whatever he can to establish an independent Catalonia.

“We will build a Catalan republic,” said the new Catalan president as lawmakers in the regional chamber sang Catalonia's anthem.

Torra also vowed to build on the results of a banned Catalan referendum on independence from Spain last October, which saw more than 90 percent of the region’s half of eligible voters endorse its separation from Spain. Puigdemont made his declaration of independence based on the results of the vote, a move that was followed by a crackdown from Madrid and forced him to flee Spain into self-exile.

Torra’s election would end months of political vacuum in Catalonia which started after Madrid dissolved Puigdemont’s government and the regional parliament and imposed direct rule. The current parliament that was formed after snap elections in December is also filled with separatist lawmakers.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy reacted to Torra’s appointment and said there was a growing need for “understanding and harmony” between the central government and Catalonia. He vowed, however, that any move meant to break the Spanish constitution would not be tolerated.



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